This is a weekly compilation of bite-sized song & EP reviews from our music writers. Discover new favs, read nuanced criticism of the week’s hottest releases & more. Follow our playlist featuring these tracks and more on Spotify or Apple Music.
Jean Dawson – "Ghost*"
Jean Dawson is making big waves in music right now with his bold brand of experimental pop, and he’s not about to drop the ball anytime soon. The Blaxican artist, who’s going on tour in 2022 with BROCKHAMPTON, recently released “Ghost*,” which was included in Apple Music’s Juneteenth 2021: Freedom Songs compilation. Led by a warped guitar arpeggio, Dawson gets into a cloud of rock goodness to pay homage to his Black ancestors and everyone who has felt unheard or unseen. —Cheky
Twin Shadow – "Sugarcane"
You know you’re in the presence of a certified banger when ’90s-’00s superstar D’Angelo comes to mind on first listen. Twin Shadow nods to the R&B great by tapping into the same funky and sultry groove. The sticky sweet jam also serves as a showcase for his vocal mastery, from honey-dripping baritone vocals on the verse to the Prince-worthy falsetto on the chorus. —Marcos Hassan
Carla Morrison– “Obra de Arte (Acto 3)”
Somewhere during her meteoric rise to superstardom, Carla Morrison says she lost sight of herself. But over the past year, the versatile Mexican diva has unveiled a series of singles unspooling her anxieties, mental health struggles, and revitalizing affirmations — ushering the dawn of a new chapter in her life and career. The latest entry in this new saga is: “Obra de Arte,” a sexy, bouncy R&B jam where Morrison stands in the glorious wonder of her body, pleading guilty when charged with bombshell status. —Richard Villegas
AJ Davila –“El Mar”
AJ Davila marks his return with a fuzzed-out garage punk track, which is the leading single to his upcoming new album by the same name. The single oscillates between hard grunge and a boisterous yet balanced upbeat melody. Together, they create an infectiously catchy single that carries an overall bright sound weighed down with the signature spirit of rock n’ roll attitude. A song worth adding to the summer playlists for those looking to keep a part of their moody, dark spirit while dancing the sunny days to come away. —Jeanette Diaz
Pongo –“Bruxos” | A COLORS SHOW
Pongo is a leading act among artists who are revamping kuduro. Based in Lisbon, the rapper and singer has been molding new strands for the frenetic Angolan electronic music genre by connecting dots with dancehall and club music since her first EP in 2019, titled “Quem Manda no Mic.” In her new single, Bruxos, Pongo fuses baile funk claps and polyrhythmic taken out of a diverse percussion set. She pounds it with vibrant singing and a metric arrangement that blends Portuguese and Quimbundo on single verses. At the bridge, Pongo shouts out loud: “São bruxos, não duvida,” that is, “They are witches, don’t you doubt it.” You bet this song has some sort of magic. —Felipe Maia
lrepelusa, Robot - “𝑩𝑼𝑩𝑩𝑳𝑬”
Venezuela teams up with Mexicali in this groovy and highly-catchy track from lrepelusa and rapper Robot 95. They combine their respective talents and craft towards what can only be described as a complete vibe. The one-take music video embraces a mixed media approach and stylized street art aesthetic, combining all its elements into a song that’ll stick to your cortex like bubblegum. —Juan Arroyo
After two years in the making, Fino, Ferraz’s sophomore album, is finally out, cementing him as one of the top producers in Latin America’s current R&B/pop landscape. In track number two, “Espérame,” the Venezuelan artist crafted a heavy beat with intermittent bass growls and a flickering synth pad. Yet, within those notes, his sweet voice lays comfortably, feeling confident but humble that, when the right time comes, his love is everything his lover needs. —Cheky
Chucky73 - "Diri"
Just a few months after the release of a bold single featuring Eladio Carrion and one year after his album debut, Sie7etr3 crew and label leader Chucky73 is back with his first solo track of 2021. The rapper keeps on the minimal style that made his name known among last year’s best Latin hip-hop freshmen: no more than a couple of touches on old-school piano keys, some adlibs, and chunky bass kicks underlying his trap flow. It feels like the ’90s minimal Memphis rap scene or sinister Geto Boys’ beats meeting Migos’ lines, but it’s just 2021 hip-hop as told by the Bronx-based newcomer Chucky73. —Felipe Maia
Princesa Alba –"Miss You bb"
In a moment of acute loneliness, so many of us have stared blankly at our phones with our fingers hovering over the send button after drafting 20 different versions of “Hello, how are you?” addressed at our ex. This profoundly relatable scenario is enough to make Princesa Alba’s dramatic new single “miss you bb” an instant heartbreak classic. Yet, it’s her ability to delete those messages and remind us that we’re better off alone that pushes the track into unique territory. Trap beats and orchestral strings build tension throughout, but nothing can distract from Alba’s steeliness as she examines the downward spiral a simple text message can trigger. — Richard Villegas
Late Nite Laundry –“Free Time”
Founded in 2019 in Chicago, indie band Late Nite Laundry comprises first- and second-generation immigrants hailing from Cuba, Nicaragua, Argentina, and Cabo Verde. Together, they keep the flame of ‘70s soul & funk alive, at times recalling acts like the Isley Brothers and Cymande. With their new single “Free Time,” bassist & vocalist Emily Burlew perfectly captures the sultry energy that powered the best songs from the era and demonstrates it’s still too early to lower the curtain on that sound. —Juan Arroyo
BARDO –“Patterns of Being”
Chicano Batman’s frontman Bardo Martinez dropped the news of his first debut solo album Everywhere Reminds Me Of Space, which is set to be released this July. The leading single, out now, slows and stretches the traditional sounds of Bossa Nova rhythms while infusing psychedelic synths and a new exploration of beat-forward melodies. Pleasantly adjoined are his vocoded vocals that explore the outer world to journey him closer to self-acceptance of his inner one. —Jeanette Diaz
Skirts – “True”
“True” is a perfect showcase for singer-songwriter Alex Montenegro and her gift of painting vivid pictures of heartache with words. Describing her melancholic state through scenes in visceral detail, the lyrics of this track are brought to life through a folky setting that makes her sentences ache harder. The warm instrumentation and pop melodies ease us into the feeling behind the track and let us rejoice in sadness. —Marcos Hassan
Yasser Tejeda – “El Sol De La Madruga” (Acústico)
The NY-based guitar virtuoso is back with an ode to the scenery of Samaná back in his homeland of the Dominican Republic. “El Sol De La Madruga” is heavily influenced by a countryside chant that depicts the beauty of the sun coming over the mountains at dawn. Samaná is a northeastern peninsula in the DR, bordered by beaches with crystalline turquoise waters and tropical mountain forests offering the best of coastal and “campo” life. —Joel Moya